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tv   Consider This  Al Jazeera America  October 28, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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good evening, everyone. welcome to al jazeera america. i am john seigenthaler in new york. here are the top stories. president obama says his administration is reviewing the nsa policy on spying, after weeks of protests from the european nations about ease droving on world leaders. a european delegation is in washington this week talking about spying reports with u.s. government officials. 26 young men will soon receive a payout totalling $60 million from penn state university. the school is giving this settlement to victims abused by jerry sandusky a little more after a year for 45 counts of
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child sex abuse. rick perry says a federal ruling will not stop ongoing efforts to protect women. a federal judge has tossed out some abortion restrictions passed by the texas legislature this summer calling them unconstitutional. the new rules were scheduled to take effect tuesday. the state's attorney general is appealing the ruling. those are the headlines at this hour. i am john seigenthaler. "consider this" with antonio moro is next. i will see you here with the news and you can get the latest on the white house back
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pedalling after more nsa backlash. international leaders deannouncements reports that the u.s. monitored their phone contacts and those of millions of citizens of countries including germany, france and now spain. consider this: what are the real costs of our spying operations. also, is there a way to slow the aging process? a new discovery has thrilled the medical community. what are the real complications involved -- implications. >> can trading cards in soccer bring peace? we will go inside top efforts in afghanistan. >> i am antonio mora. we begin with the latest in the nsa controversy. ambassador to spain, james costas it was called after reports of 60 medical spanish phone calls. >> the european union met behind closed doors. german parliamentians would like
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to know why they tapped chancellor angela merkel's phone calls. >> we are not considering our chancellor as a terrorist. therefore, i would say they have to think about or to reconsider what they really are interested. >> many americans fear their privacy may have been come promised. >> i am outraged like most people here, you know, at the mass surveillance that's going on. and people just don't seem to be upset about it. it's blatantly unconstitutional. >> we need to tell congress they need to act. we need to demand it. >> the crowd heard jess lin radack from the governmentt. it included this pointed message. >> we are here to remind our
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government officials that they are public servants, not private investigators. >> for more, i am joined from washington, d.c. by jesselyn y radack from the government accountability project whom you just saw speaking at the stop spying on us rally. thank you for joining us. on september 4th, president obama made this comment during a news conference in sweeden. >> i can give assurance to the pubs in europe and around the world that we are not going around snooping at people's e-mails or listening to their phone calls. >> there has been a lot of back and forth, jesselyn about what the president knew and when he knew it, whether he was left out of the loop when it came to some of these nsa programs. do you think he was telling the truth when he made those comments in sweeden? >> you know, i don't know what to think anymore. he did this kind of non-denial
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denial which was kind of what about the past in the it turned outed in the past they had been listening to angela merkel's phone calls since 2002. now, we have kind of had finger pointing between the white house saying the president didn't know and then, an unnamed official at the nsa saying that the president knew since 2010. so, again, their messaging is all over the plates as it has been with a lot of these different leaks. >> a lot of u.s. ambassadors have been called in by foreign governments and called to task. the spanning issue government calling in our ambassador is the most recent case after it was reported the u.s. had collected data on the millions of spanish phone calls. on the other hand, the spanish phone call didn't seem to be so eager to have the nsa program ended. asking for clarification and balance. given the threat america
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continues to face, shouldn't these programs go forward with some oversight? >> these programs, we don't even begin to know the depth of them. we are scratching the surface right now. and i can tell you that from representing whistleblowers for years. these violate numerous national laws as well as international laws. so i don't know if it's a matter of modifying them. i think you may not have heard the level of outrage from spain that you did because you didn't hear about the head of the state employing monitored. initially, germany had a rather soft reaction to the idea its citizens were being monitored but then when angela merkel found out she was being monitored, she was furious. i am not sure why we are monitoring. historically, i agree that intelligence agencies and embassies of other states monitor each other all the time.
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i don't think anyone has a problem request that buzz when you are monitoring a entirely innocent population and the head of state for that particular country, that seems like a breadth of surveillance that has no historical precedent. >> they say we weren't really listening to the phone calls of all of these citizens. it was the meta data argument that they are keeping drag of whom is calling whom. citizens in spain could be connect with people in pakistan, could be connecting with people in the united states and that might give us a trail to find some terrorists. >> well, first of all, meta data tells you a lot more about what people are doing than content. i know that may seem counter-intuitive but you get a lot more information from meta data. and the question is, if they are having conversations with someone in pakistan, i mean i have no problem with following
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law enforcement procedures if you think people are engaged in a crime. obviously, the law -- the law contemplates that. what it does not contemplate is blanket, dragnet mass surveillance with no oversight of millions and millions of people it's just outrageous. i think folks need to be rained in. >> what's the main message you wanted to get out of saturday's rally? what would you like it to do to impact public policy going forward? >> i think saturday's rally was meant to say that, look, people in the u.s. of every political stripe and every background are all in favor of reining in the surveillance state we have created. while there are bills that we want congress to realize we are watching and we do care about
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what's going on, and they need to mpay more attention to their constituents than to thursday their corporations and other people who are sponsoring them. >> the issue does seem to be succeeding in pulling people from both sides of the aisle together, something that doesn't seem to be happening very often recently. you mentioned senator leahy from vermont, a democrat and a michigan congressman justin imash and groups financed on one side by george soros and the other side by the koch brothers that were there. so how do you see this issue? how has it become such a bi-partisan issue? because it also has become -- it's interesting. there is bi-partisan -- by partnership on both sides. some people? >> exactly. i think on this particular issue back when warrantless wiretapping was revealed in 2006, we saw the same kind of
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strange bed fellows fphenom mon here, i think there are a lot of liberal progressives who say we want our privacy. certainly, we have no problem making that argument with regard to something like abortion. yet, i was on a t.v. show the other day where the conservative person was on my side and the liberal person was attacking me because they were an obamabot and indented to obama and wanted to defend anything and everything obama did. but i know for sure, obviously, as george bush had been doing this, democrats would have been all over it. i think in america, we are in this reallinique situation where a lot of the people who would ordinarily be angry about this are too busy drinking the kool-aid from the obama fountain to look at it rationally. >> talking about the obama administration, a senior administration official told the "new york times," a quote, it's not that the nsa or the
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intelligence community were going rogue or operating out of bounds. is that the issue here that other countries spy on the u.s. to the degree their technology allows? and isn't that, in fact, what the nsa did? they just simply did business as usual? >> they are going rogue and out of bounds because they are violating section 215 of the patriot act and section 702 of the fisa amendments act as well as the fourth amendment of the constitution. and as i said earlier, i get it. embassies spy on embassies and intelligence groups spy on one another. but we don't spy on innocent, perfectly innocent citizenship, an entire populace of a nation as well as the high level conversations of the actual leader's hand-held device. >> if that broad monitoring of population ended up finding
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terrorist plots, how would you respond to that? >> again it would be an ends-justify-the-means argument i don't buy. eventually we were able to find outed who the tsarnev brothers were because we basically crowd sourced a manhunt for surveillance scammers and people's picture cameras and iphones. just because we found that doesn't mean that surveillance works. it's an ends-justifies-the-means. the obvious point was that they did have hundreds of government surveillance cameras in boston that did not detect, alert, or stop the plot to bomb at that point. >> i guess the argument would be on the other side that it could at some point, and whether you would want it for those cases where it might happen, but let's move move on and talk about edward snowden. does he consider himself a hero
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as supporters do. how does he react to the anger of those who call him a traitor? >> i think he is disappointed. he doesn't consider himself a hero. i think he eschews any such label. i think he considers himself a patriot and an american and a whistleblower. and i think that's right. obviously all sorts of incendiary and inflammatory words have been thrown around, some of which don't even fit the legal definition, if people were to bother to look it up. but, no, he didn't see himself as a hero. >> one of the people attending the rally, a man named dave miller, told u.s.a. today, the national progress is more control, more power. no matter what they say, we're going down the path towardter n ttierney? do you agree? >> i think we are in the position of turnkey tierney.
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we are right there. we are following the playbook. >> how has it hurt anybody? >> how has it hurt anybody? the fact that all of our personal information is being stored in a big data storage facility in utah, anybody at any time who works for the nsa or any one of these other contractors could decide they don't like you or they want to find out more about their ex-wife or they just would like to know more about this person or maybe they are stalking another person and dig down on that information. it's extremely dangerous thing. even worse, our enemies could easily dig into that trove of information that we have created on everybody. it's very harmful. it's completely unnecessary, and it obviously has had nothing to do with stopping terrorism. >> jesselyn radack, we thank you for joining us to bring us your thoughts. >> thank you. coming up: how much can you trust new studies and reports about your wellbeing.
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are groups you thought consumer advocates a front for special interests or big corporations? plus our social media producer is tracking the most interesting stories on the web. what's trending? >> today's story illustrates the power of onions. they might make you cry but in some countries, they can help decide elections. more on that coming up. >> what do you think? join the conversation on twit r twitter @ajconsiderthis.
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before the fillerin brokovich won awards, an advisor for american science and health called the claims of a cancer cluster junk science. al new report raises questions on just how much big corporate donations influence reports like ecigarettes, fracking and efforts to ban soda. for more, we are joined by andy
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croll. his new piece explores behind the council. andy, i want to talk about more groups in addition to the american council. but you investigated specifically the donations that the american council on science and health received. we saw some of the e-mails you obtained. here is one of them. we saw a lot of large corporations are paying the bills. coca-cola, american petroleum, proctor a& gamble, phillip morris. they claim donations do not play a role if their scientific findings. what did you find? >> we found that this organization, the american council on science and health, been around since 1978, while saying that how it gets money and who it gets money from has nothing to do with how it office its research and advocacy and the statements it makes in public, that in fact, the documents we found show that the
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organization approaches its funders very much with specific issues in mind around, you know, issues like fracking or around issues like the labeling of genetically modified food. these are hot-button issues, that a clean colleague and mine obtained show that this organization is very much going to its funders in connecting issues that its working on, that it's supposedly independently researching, that it is untainted by donors, but it's really engaging these donors and going to these donors with its hat in its hand saying, you know, hey, we are working on these issues or we could work on these issues. can you give us some money? and then these donors, as you pointed out, the corporations are really a who's who of corporate america, those that are on this don list. >> the council sent us a statement in response to your article saying, over our 3 five-year history we have adhered to peer-reviewed
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mainstream science, all donations are received with no strings attached. our donations are always add -- donors are advised they will not have any editorial input or exert any control over achs's scientific conclusions, only science-based facts hold sway in our research and publications even if the outcome is not pleasing to our contributors. did you find any direct evidence of the corporation's influence to the group's conclusions? >> what we found was information showing that this organization goes to its donors and says: these are the issues we could work on. these are the issues we are working on. do you want to give us money? and we've also found lots of evidence of advocacy by this group. they are not just doing scientific research and putting out papers. they are doing advocacy, op-eds, blog posts, public radio appearances, stumping and touting for products like ecigarettes while getting funding from ecigarette
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companies and never disclosing this. >> any day now the fda is going to rule on whether they should be regulated. dr. gilbert ross is the executive director of the council has been advocating in favor of ecigarettes. let's listen to him. >> the data are out there and just ready to be harvested and published to show that ecigarettes are effective methodology to help smokers quit. we hope that the fda will use its regulatory powers. the potential risks are min excuse me minifsculminiscule. >> they had been fighting regular cigarettes 20 years ago, 30 years ago. but the documents you obtained showed that the council is schedule today get $338,000 from tobacco companies between july of 2012 and 2013. what did you find out about the relationship there? >> this is the most interesting part of the story from my perspective. this is an organization that, as
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you pointed out, has been incredibly critical of traditional cigarette smoking over the years, you know, declaring this is one of the gravest threats to the health of consumers from, you know, products out there that you could buy. but what these documents show and what this organization has never disclosed is that it is now receiving money from those same big tobacco companies that it criticized in years past, and it is promoting ecigarettes and what are called smokeless alternatives to tobacco and cigarette smoking. this organization, as you heard in that clip with dr. ross, their medical director, they are very proceed ecigarette. he touts it as a nac e & p public healthing miracle but not disclosing they are accepting money from the likes of phillips morris international, altria and reynolds america and other cigarette makers.
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this is blatant failure to disclose information to consumers looking for information: should i buy cigarettes or not. >> is there any proof that the science they are touting on ecigarettes is faulty. >> there is not much science at all from ascia. they are promoting them through blog posts and op-eds and, you know, other kind of advocacy because this is an issue of regulatory concern right now. the fda this month is supposed to decide how it's going to regulate this booming ecigarette market. the point of our piece is not to -- is not to go toe-to-toe or take apart the science of this particular organization. on ecigarettes, the saints is undecided. i spoke with a public scientist who thinks ecigarettes are a public health risk. so smart people are not decided. they are all over the place on this issue. we want people to understand where this organization is coming from when they see their
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work out there in the world. >> how significant is this group these days? it sounds like they don't have anywhere near the size of other similar organizations in the research we did fairly small staff. they are not the research outlet they once were. >> no. it doesn't seem to be the case. there are some news reports about the organization having some financial problems. as a journalist, we don't control how we get, you know, internal secret fundraising documents. you know, it's something that's provided to us, you know, and the story is there and wend it was here, we go with it. the organization is not as influential as it once was but it is still out there, very much trying to influence the debate. you know, you are seeing tens of thousands of people relating their op-eds on sites like forbes and other places, going on public radio, as i mentioned, and, you know, if this story helps even a franktion of those people -- fraction of those people get a better since of where this organization is coming from, that matters.
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>> on the other hand, we look this stuff up, too, and there are a lot of groups that are getting money from pretty much the whole range, the whole gamut, organizations that get money from the left. others that get money from the right. in the end, are any of these organizations that thought themselves as science organizations, with they pure? >> no. everyone has their donors. you know, ne get financial support from one place or another. and they are -- they have motivations and they are trying to influence the debate. if we are going to talk about ecigarettes, there is so much activity going on right now, trying to influence how, for instance, the food and drug administration decides to regulate this exploding market for ecigarettes. i mean the important thing s you know, as a journalist, and the reason that i was interested in this story is doing our part to give the public some information about where this organization is
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coming from, give some information to maybe the regulators who are weighing arguments and deciding where to come from. i mean obviously we have academics. we have scientists who get government funding or who are supported, you know, through like an academic or a college institution and, you know, that seems to have less of a bearing in terms of their financial motive than some of these private groups. >> you have liberal foundations that are putting up money for certain organizations that are also saying that they are putting out science. so there is probably bias there. is your biggest issue with the council that they are just not going public with their donor names? >> yeah, and accusing the other side, anti-cigarette activists for allegedly not addition closing that he their funding from separate pharmaceutical companies who would stand to lose if ecigarettes boom. this doctor ross fellow at the american of science and health tulk criticizes opponents for not disclosing their funding,
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while not disclosing his organization's own. that's the issue here that's what we hope to do. >> it raises a lot of questions with respect to all of these organizations. not just this council. so it's certainly very important article on that front. i think we should know a lot more about the all of these people that are giving us studies and that we are making decisions based on. andy kroll, really appreciate you coming on the show tonight. thanks for your time. >> thank you. >> now, it's time to see what's trending on al jazeera america website. >> it's something many of us take for granted, and some of us don't even like in our foods but in india, on yuions are essenti. they are to curry as rice is to sushi which is why the rising onion prices india have the people there up in arms. in the last three months alone prices c qu quadrupled.
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things are so bad that india, the second largest onion grower in the world is turning to pakistan for the vegetable. in september, groupon india had a sale that was so popular, it crashed their website. they were offering about two pounds for 9 rupies or $0.15. now, it's going for up to 10 times as much. it may even play a key role in next month's state assembly elections. it wouldn't be the first time. until 1998, hindu nationalist party was ousted after a surge in onion prices. in 1980, the late leader gandhi retained favor on the back of rising onion prices. they broke down the importance of this tear-inducing viggie? >> you can mobilize people on the issue of onions because it is an item that is used by a common man.
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also, it affects -- pifrmingz your pocket every day, every time, every time you go outncher pocket every day, every time, every time you go out, it affects your pocket. >> to more of your reaction. krisbee says the same issue persists the last 50 years. nothing is being done about it by successive governments. join the conversation like krisbee by tweeting to u us @agconsiderthis and check out our website, antonio, back to you? >> the world is an interesting. i would like to have bought those nine onio in. s for 15 crenelates. i would have helped crash groupon. >> thank you. >> the doctors who may have just reshaped the field of anti-aging. he will tell us about his incredible discovery and how it potentially col take off. people crazy for beatlemania years after the fab four broke up. closest to the story, invite
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hard-hitting debate and desenting views and always explore issues relevant to you.
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all next week america tonight investigates the campus rape crisis. >> serial rape is the norm on college campuses. >> i know that when i did report, i was blamed. >> then this friday at nine eastern, we open up the conversation in a live town-hall event. sex crimes on campus, a special week of coverage and live town-hall on america tonight nine eastern. only on al jazeera america. what if you could slow the aiming processes? a. >> cla professor says he found an internal body clock, thanks to dna that tracks the biological age of our body's tissues and organs. researchers say there are some that age quicker or slower than others and that discovery could unlock secrets that could help
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you see young -- could help keep you young. it could also help target disease that come in old age. what could this mean for potential cures? and what are the ethics involved? dr. steve horvath is a professor of human genetics at ucla. he joins us from los angeles. dr. art kaplan is a bioeth cyst. he is the head of the nyulangon medical elth ifex division. dr. harvath, i want to speak with you. you have spoken about a fountain of youth since ponce de leon went searching. we know you studied 8,000 samples of more than 4,000 cancerous cells and tissues. give us a shot in layman's terms here what exactly did you find? >> well, i found a biological clock that allows one to estimate the ages of many
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tissues and cell types in organs in the human body. and this new aging clock is based on certain markers on the dna, and by averaging these 353 markers, one can arrive at a highly accurate estimate of human age. >> so you can actually see what the dna, what age the dna should have. you can see where some were older and some were younger? >> yes. exactly. this is, of course, a very interesting application to estimate the age of various different regions from the same individual and then identify certain tissues or organs that either look substantially older or younger based upon their chronological age. >> i want to talk about what you
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found that was older and younger. i also want to talk about a very important thing that you found, that there was a way of resetting adult cells into what you call plury post he want stem cells so you can turn back the clock on those cells. what potential does that hold for anti-aginging? i need to be sure i have not found a way to rejuvenate tissue. we are far from that. but what i have found is that a 3r0er that is reroutinely used to turn mature cells into almost embree embryonic soles, this resets the aging clock to zero and, in other words, it resets the age of the adult tissue back to an almost embryonic state.
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>> dr. kaplan, there has been a lot of study of stem cells as possibly anti-aging cures. do they bring up any ethical issues for you? >> enormous ethical issues. but let me say this discovery, the ability to sort of see what the biological clock is, organ by organ, traumatic brain injury by tissue, demonstrating that, in fact, our bodies age at different raises inside ourselves, that's really important. i know some viewers may say if you can't reset my clock, what do you care? call me you can when i can be rejuvenated but this is major stuff because it allows us to say, hey, maybe you are going to need an organ trans plant if your liver is aging particularly rapidly or if a cancer is near tissue and that looks abnormally older. dr. harvath has a great breakthrough here? >> thank you. >> stem cells are very, very exciting. we don't know how to do this rejuvenation with them yet. we are trying to do research with them but probably the
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biggest question they raise is: if you could rejuvenate, you have to be thinking, look, it better be my entire cell system because you don't want to be in situations where your body is rejuvenated and your head is not or your brain is lagging and your liver is good. that's probably the biggest challenge is figuring out how to change everything. >> inevitably when things like this come up, people always say, well, should we be doing this? >> yes. >> are we playing god? >> you know, you do hear that. and i have to say in a world in which modern medicine replaces organize appears a and most ofr us are familiar william artificial limbs and like dick cheney, an art official heart. we have not going to be limited by, if you will, the way nature s i think there are still questions: should we do certain things? should we not do other things because they cost too much? the general idea that we shouldn't try to improve change or even alter our life span, i don't see the argument. >> dr. harvath, let's talk some more about what you found.
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again, we were talking about how certain things seem to age at different speeds. what is aging too quickly and what is staying younger? >> yes, before i directly answer that, let me mention that the exciting aspect of this aging cl clock is that most tissues have the same age as expected. however, i found evidence that two tissues show a discrepancy. a human heart tissue appears to be substantially younger than expected. for example, the heart of a 50-year-old man could be 10 years younger than expected. and similarly, i found evidence that female breast tissue appears several years older than expected. >> why? >> i really don't know and this is clearly a very excited question because if we understand what ages these tissues or what prevents aging,
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then we are a step closer to understanding why we age. one of the things is chronological aging versus biological aging of an actual human being, compared to going to your high school reunion and you see people who look 10 years older than and others that look 10 years younger. could it be that those people who have those older looks, it's because their dna is terrible? >> well, it could be, but i would think that it has a lot to do with lifestyle decisions exercising and diet has a major effect. >> maybe some cosmetics, too. >> yeah. >> a little surgery. >> could it be partially dna? >> yes. it could be. but i expect the effect is rather small. what we really need is a large
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studies, large cohort studies to investigate whether we can detect an effect between accelerated aging on the one hand and for example, age-related diseases and other age-related complications. >> you have looked, dr. caplan at anti-aging in the past from an ethical standpoint. where do you think we will go over the next 10 to 20 years? >> there are two interesting questions about anti-aging. one is: can we get everybody to live what we would now consider a normal life span? say make it to 90. a lot of us don't. maybe technologies like this one will start to open the door so that more of us can live to an older age. then there is life extension. what can we do maybe to reset the clock, live to 110, 120. i think the big ethical problem is going to be where do you put your chips? are you going to try to let more people all around the world live to a full life span, or are you
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going to say, well, if you are rich enough or in a privileged society, maybe you will get the life extension. >> choices about where to put the resources exactly. i think that will be a big battle in the year to come, this technology we are hearing about tonight begins to improve. >> a viewer question. let's go to hermela for that? >> dr. harvath, viewer stewart wants to know does this have any implications on degenerative illnesses like alzheimer's? >> well, it would be wonderful if we could find a relationship between age acceleration and brain tissue, for example and alzheimer's status. but unfortunately, i don't have any data that would the support in t this claim. but of course, i hope that many of my colleagues will look at that because this kind of data is already out there and i distribute, freely available software on my web page. so, it
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should be very straightforward to address these questions. >> one fun thing you bring up is that there are actually potential implications from your research to fight crime? >> yes. many people suggest to me that this age predictor could be used to doctor -- for forensic applications, if blood is left on a crime scene, one could apply these age predictors to at least estimate the range of the age of the perpetrator. >> i new this was true, everything boils down to csi, no matter what you do? >> we only have about 30 seconds. you brought up the financial implications. do you think that will be a big deal going forward as to how much money can be put bo this? >> i do. you have one issue rights in front of us. how much do we devote to anti-aging when a lot of people can't get basic healthcare. we are watching that debate.
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how hard do you try to extend life for the normal life span? what do you want to put into the making it longer. tough questions. good problems to have, but tough questions. >> it's a fascinating study, incredible findings. dr. harvath and dr. caplan, great to have you here to talk about this. >> thank you so. >> please keep us posted on where you go next. a lot of us will be curious about where you go. next, how are john, paul, george and ringo still one of the biggest draws in the world more than 40 years after their last concert? find out why beatlemania lives today. we will ted tell you how trading cards are offering much more than a favorite player and bubble gum. they could lead to a small measure of peace in one of the most war-torn nations in the world. afghanistan.
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this is the 900-page document we call obamacare. my staff has read the entire thing. can congress say the same?
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today's data dive gets a ticket to ride on the bandwagon that is beatlemaniai. in 1964, ringo starr is thatted this photo. the beatle's drummer put out a tour to find the fans for a new book called photography. as the same goes, star recreated the shot with a little help from his friends at the today's show, those fans who skipped school to see the band are in their 60s. bob to thet was suspended three days to truancy. the head master finally admitted skipping school for the lads from liverpool was a good idea. beatlemania is sleeve and well even two band members aren't. they are the best selling band in history with more billboard
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hits than any other. incredibly, they continue to be hot today, 43 years after they broke up. only five acts have been able to sell as much music in britain this century as the beatles. the fab four saying you never give me your money. you only give me your funny paper. i am not sure what they were talking about because they grossed $71 million just this past year. paul mccartney made 47 million, largely thanks to solo giggs and publishing rights to a gone but not forgotten star bud d.c. holingly. john lennon's estate grossed $12 million. reasoni ringo tours with his band and earns about $400,000 a night, 10% of what sir paul gets. $6 million $6 million he earned last year. george harrison made about the same even though he died about 12 years ago. his song writing credit for here comes the sun.
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cirque du soleil gives the banda chunk of money, too. then there are the tribute bands. each red line you see is a listing for a beatles cover band in cities across america. >> that's not to mention all of the international ones. with that manitributes, a real beatles fan could go see their favorite hits live by a different group eight days a week. coming up: can trading cards depicting afghanistan's boast athletes unite a nation torn apart by war?
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on august 20th, al jazeera america introduced
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soccer has a unique power among sports. it can rous national passes for better or worse in a way few other things can. in 1914, soldiers took a break from killing each other in world war i and, instead, played soccer. on the other hand in 1969, he will salvador and hon dueras
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went to war and it went into outright conflict. in january as a group of italian group hurled chants, the home team walked off with the visitors in solidarity. in afghanistan in 2012, a reality t.v. show helped create the teams for the country's first national professional soccer league in hopes of healing the wounds caused by decades of war, occupation, sectarian violence and poverty. and this year, in a nation whose heroes are more likely to be holding an ak-47 than a soccer ball, the topps company is create agnew generation of her odes by releasing a set of 96 trading cards featuring the players in the premier league. here to talk to us about the amazing impact the sport of soccer can ahave, we are joined from kabul afghanistan by one of
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the commissioners of the roshan league and by chris rodman of topps europe. i thank you both very much for joining us tonight. shafiq, i would like for you to respond to a quote from a university student in kabul. he said, i am so lucky to be sitting here and watching my country's football league. it feels like i am watching barcelona play real madrid. i know that sounds like exaggeration but who would believe we would see something like this in afghanistan one day. as a former soccer player, yourself and a commissioner on the premier league, what does the league and the sport, itself, mean to afghanistan? >> greetings from kabul, and it's my belief that football is one of the most powerful platforms to unify people and the statement of the younger students is proof for it. we manage the ball to unify the communities and to show a positive picture from afghanistan to the rest of the
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world and at the same time, make the younger generation hopeful for a better future. >> now, you've got soccer matches being played in some stadiums where people used to be killed and punished by the taliban? >> we are not playing where bad things happen. we build a new stadium, a smaller one we are playing there. >> you said we only have heroes from the war. we don't have musicians or artists or sportsmen as heroes. how much of an impact do you see with the league? and having trading cards help you o what kind of impact do you think that will have on the young cavity generation of
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afghans? >> a corporation between topps and afghanistan premier league, we are willing to introduce new heroes for the country, for the nation and topps is a good way to achieve this goal. i am hopeful for the future. we have already introduced more than 180 heroes around the country, all of the players coming from different provinces and everybody knows them. the topps cards will help them to be more famous among the people. >> it will be great to have positive role models. how did topps get involved with the after gallon premier league? you are a big company. you have big -- a lot of activity all over the world. how did you end up in afghanistan? especially under these terrible circumstances that that country has been going through?
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>> it was introduced by icener and topps' ceo to engage and exciting young afghan is with trading cards of the afghan league. >> how do you see this working from a business standpoint? you really only have 96 players right now. how much of a market do you expect to find in afghanistan for these trading cards? >> well, when you look at the passion for the sport and the youngsters, there is enormous a lot of potential. soccer players all over the world real aspirational characters for children who collect topps products and can provide positive role modelses for those children and, perhaps, influence some of the choices they make in their life, whether that's not doing drugs or studying more at school. we are hoping that by taking and
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raising the awareness, we might be able to help in some of those very worthwhile areas. >> is this almost a pro bono thing for topps? because the cards are $0.35. that's cheap by american standards. in 2010, the average income in afghanistan was $426. that means they were only making a dollar something a day on average. so $0.35 is a lot of money. >> yes, it is amount of money. but relative to some of the other things that can be purchased in the market with deposable income, it's priced competitively. as you rightly say, it is a fraction of the price of the product we sell in america or here in the u.k. with our english premier league product. it works out as about a 5th of the price. it is priced to try to engage as many children as possible and our business is all about exciting kids and getting them passionate about the sport and
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so, therefore, there is a combination of some product that he has purchased and some that's given away and some that's used as promotional activities with sponsors like roshan. >> shafiq, tell me about the sectarian violence that continues in afghanistan. in talking about the league, you said that we would like to bring our message to the majority of after gans and to the world, that afghans can play together and that we have teams composed of different tribes, of different ethnicities. if you look at the kandahar team, they are not just only composed of pastoons, but other ethnicities, too. the idea of sectarian violence is foreign to most americans. so how is it that soccer can manage to heal these old wounds, animosity that has been passed from generation to generation? >> first of all, there is no sectarian violence in afghanistan. >> that's also a picture that we would like to fix it.
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and these game shows that is proof for it t i think afghanistan is a young nation. we have the overwhelming majority of the position is under 25. 25%, and that is our target group and the people who have the passion for sports, especially for ball, and due to the war and civil war, they haven't got the chance to come together and to make peace with each other. football brings it mossim, bringing all of the countplayer around the country, for one and a half to two months together. they are changing their views, also, their time with each other. they are making friends among each other. and that has a factor for the rest of young people and if they are back in their provinces,
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they have a lot of nice things about their friends in the from the north, from the south, from central afghanistan and other areas. and i say to many ofmize, we have proved after gans can compete and go for fair competition and, also, at the hand of the -- end of the day, shake hand and come together and share their nice stories with each other. >> that's what we are -- what we wanted to achieve and like to be achieved. >> the violence now is mostly generated from the taliban. there is certainly a longshift of sectarian violence. you had war lords all over the country. now, the manager of the albor phoenix from the northwest has spoken how the sport has brought the nation together in a way politicia politicians have not and say they should learn from sports how we make a united afghanistan. you have been quoted as saying similar things. what message can soccer bring to
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the political establishment in afghanistan? >> key wo--? >> teamwork. >> an important move for topps to get into a country like this. what do you hope topps can help do in afghanistan? >> i hope in a small way that kids around the rest of the world have when they are looking to find their sporting heroes in a packet of topps cards and in the process, maybe it will be a cause for good social interaction between different communities in the country. >> shafic, to end, soccer leagues fail all over the world. other sports leagues fail all over the world in places that aren't phasing the -- facing the kind of violence that exists in afghanistan. what do you hope to see for the league's future. are you confident the premier
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league will survive and thrive? >> i am optimistic and the concept we have used and also now, everybody sees that the cooperation between the private sector and afghan football federation on one side and from public sector is join -- that these all sectors join hands is a very good concept to make the league's obtainable and we are very hopeful that it would be sustainable league for the future. >> we certainly wish you the greatest possible success and same to you, chris, for your efforts there. shafiq, and chris rodman of topps international, thank you for your time. the show may be over but the conversation continues on our website,, or on our facebook or google plus pages. we will see you next time.
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